ONE NATION ONE LAW (UCC)

Proportion
Categories: Journal, JOURNAL
 THE LAWWAY WITH LAWYERS JOURNAL
VOLUME:- 3  ISSUE NO:- 3   , september 30, 2023

Authored by :- G ASHOK KUMAR


ONE NATION ONE LAW (UCC)

page no:-1

 

One Nation, One Law (UCC) is a phrase that brings unity to the country, but simultaneously introduces controversy. The Uniform Civil Code implies one law for all Indian people, irrespective of religion, caste, gender, or economic status. They all have the right to equality before the law, a right provided by the Indian Constitution. Then why does the UCC face more controversy in India? There is a possibility to implement the UCC in a secular country.

As the world’s largest democratic country, India has numerous religions, each with its own laws that apply to specific groups following distinct cultural, customary, or regional practices. Personal laws are defined as laws applying to a particular process, group, or individual based on religion, faith, and culture. Beliefs determine their legal principles, as seen in Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, etc.

For instance, in matters such as adoption, maintenance, marriage, and divorce, different laws exist based on the religion followed. This diversity leads people to approach the courts for violations of their fundamental rights granted by the Indian Constitution. Fundamental rights are universal, ensuring equality for all individuals living in India. They serve as a guardian for the people, ensuring the same rights under the Indian Constitution.

History of the UNIFORM CIVIL CODE

In 1835, the second law commission under the British government submitted that there is a need for the codification of Indian laws. According to the Indian Constitution, the people of India have equal rights irrespective of religion, caste, gender, or economic status; they deserve natural justice from the Indian courts.

After independence, we drafted a constitution with a focus on social justice, democracy, and the true welfare of the people. In our constitution, Part-4, Article 44 introduces the concept of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), suggesting its adoption if the country is ready for the idea of one nation, one law. The constitution provides fundamental rights for people across India. If these rights are violated, individuals can approach the Indian courts under Article 226 for High Court and Article 32 for the Supreme Court. Courts play a crucial role in protecting people’s rights.

In the beginning, there were no special laws on this equivalent concept. In 1835, the first case was brought before the Supreme Court, leading to two landmark judgments emphasizing equality before the law. In the Shabano case (also known as Mohammed Ahmed Khan v. Shabano Begum), the Supreme Court accepted the challenge. Shabano, a wife, filed a case against her husband for maintenance. In Muslim law, there was no provision for this, and Shabano approached the High Court seeking maintenance. The Supreme Court held that there is no escape from fundamental rights, irrespective of religion, caste, gender, etc. This case is also known as an open-eye case.

The Law Commission of India initiated research on this, and the 22nd Law Commission submitted a report in 2020. The Indian commission also suggested the need for a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

In another perspective, a uniform code was deemed incorrect for India due to a lack of education and the diversity in our country. This seems implausible without considering the opposing opinions. After many years, the central government included the UCC in their manifesto. In 2014, the central government stated in their manifesto that they would implement laws such as CAA, Article 370, Triple Talaq, and UCC. The UCC bill was introduced, but many opposition parties strongly opposed this concept. Article 29 of the Constitution emphasizes the protection of the interests of minorities in India, who have their own culture, customs, and language.

Some states and countries, like Goa, have successfully implemented a Uniform Civil Code, where the majority are Hindus, and minorities are Christians. In Goa, 65% are Hindus, and the rest are Christians, allowing for the successful implementation of the UCC due to majority opinions. Other countries implementing a uniform civil code include the US, Malaysia, Ireland, and Egypt, where they have a majority belonging to one religion. However, our country, with its multiple religions, myths, beliefs, and diversity, is unique. Despite these differences, countries respect India precisely because of its diversity.

The 22nd Law Commission also submitted a report in favor of the UCC. Former Justice of the Karnataka High Court, Ritu Raj Awasthi, and another member submitted a report suggesting that the UCC would bring positive changes to the Indian structure. Some intellectuals argue that a unified law in our country would foster unity and eliminate inequalities. Article 44 of the Indian Constitution provides guidelines for the Uniform Civil Code.
In another case, the Supreme Court once again instructed to enact a law; the case is Arunachal Gounder v Ponnusamy. In this instance, the Supreme Court ruled that the father’s property shares should be divided equally among all, including daughters, granting equal rights to daughters in both purchased and ancestral properties. The Supreme Court has frequently urged the government to introduce a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) bill, creating special laws for the well-being of the people. However, the question arises: Is this law right or wrong for our country, with its 143 million people, diverse emotions, cultures, religions, customs, and more?

If the UCC is introduced, some fear a threat to their cultural, religious, and caste identities, continuing traditions from ancient periods. Opponents argue that the implementation of UCC might lead to a loss of cultural recognition and personal rights under existing laws. On the other hand, proponents believe that UCC could ensure equal status for all citizens, gender equality, national unity, and the eradication of caste-based inequalities in India. The debate hinges on striking a balance between preserving cultural diversity and fostering national unity through legal reforms.
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had a positive opinion on this matter as he believed that this law would abolish untouchability and inequality in India. He saw it as a means to provide equal rights to those living outside of society, irrespective of their religion. Dr. Ambedkar criticized religions for imposing discrimination based on culture, caste, and customs. He strongly opposed concepts within religions that perpetuated discrimination.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar aimed to introduce the Hindu Code Bill during his tenure as the Law Minister, but the legislative body did not allow its passage, leading to widespread protests across India. The subsequent passage of the Hindu Code Bill in Parliament marked a significant revelation in India, addressing the lack of rights for women at that time, and this was also aligned with the principles of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC).

However, minorities and some other groups oppose the UCC, fearing the loss of their identity and culture. They believe that implementing the UCC would lead to the abolition of their personal laws, allowing political parties and the government to intervene in their customs. This opposition is rooted in concerns about losing their beliefs, existence, and the influence of myths in people’s minds.
We all know that our country is a secular country. However, when we look at the issue, we have numerous customs and scriptures, each with its own laws. So, what does secularism mean? It implies the separation of religion from political, economic, cultural, and social aspects of life. It signifies that things and activities have nothing to do with religion. We might label public schools as secular, but we don’t apply the term to Catholic schools. Do we truly have secularism in our country?

According to the constitution, the people of India drafted a constitution for the welfare of all classes of people. Simultaneously, the constitution grants the right to practice religious beliefs. The courts also state that religious beliefs depend on the individual. If someone wants to oppose, they also have the right to oppose religious beliefs, protected by the Indian constitution.

Whatever it is, if the government aims to enact laws promoting women’s empowerment, national integration, and secularism by creating a common identity for citizens, the removal of personal laws will contribute to social justice. Reforming laws is also beneficial for the nation’s development. As things are changing, and people’s thoughts are evolving, there is a need for new evaluations socially and economically to build a better society. Unfortunately, people often resist new evaluations due to a lack of education. As Indians, we should adhere to the Indian constitution for the welfare of the country, prioritizing unity over religious differences. We are all Indians firstly and lastly.

 

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